Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Ant-Catching Tool Kits

Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Ant-Catching Tool Kits

Article excerpt

Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialized tool kits to forage for army ants, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Primatology. This study not only provides the first direct evidence of multiple tool use in this context, but suggests that chimpanzees have developed a sustainable way of harvesting food.

A team from the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project studied chimpanzees throughout the Nouabale-Ndoki national park in the Republic of Congo. The team recovered 1,060 tools and collected 25 video recordings of chimpanzees using them to forage for army ants. The average number of tools recovered at each site was 3.37, while 36% of recovered tool sets contained two types of tools: nest perforating tools and ant-dipping probes. Ant-dipping probes are the most commonly observed method of catching army ants. The chimpanzee inserts a probe into a nest or column of ants and gathers the individuals who stream up the tool. The perforating tools are used to open nests so the chimpanzee can gather the ants within.

Although the tool sets observed were similar to other recorded tools, this research suggests that chimpanzees are selecting tools depending on the characteristics of the ant species they are foraging. …

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